Jennifer Sky

Queen of the Tokyo Ballroom by Jennifer Sky

Queen of the Tokyo Ballroom


Available now from the Atavist and Amazon.

When Jennifer Sky was fifteen, she was offered the chance to spend a summer working as a model in Japan. For a girl from rural Florida who spent hours poring over fashion magazines it seemed like a dream come true. But soon she found herself all but abandoned in an unfamiliar city, attempting to navigate a ruthless industry on her own and waving goodbye to childhood on the boozy margins of Tokyo’s expatriate scene. In "Queen of the Tokyo Ballroom," Sky recounts the summer that changed the course of her life—and left her still sorting out the consequences two decades later.

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New York Observer

Young Models Are Easy Pickings For the City’s Club Promoters

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Top earning promoters will make thousands of dollars a night, bringing in between 10 to 20 girls and boys to attend hosted tables.

The Daily Beast

Does Fashion Week Exploit Teen Models?

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"Backstage none of the press left when the girls were changing. No one was concerned if the girls that were changing were underage."

The New York Times

My Life as a Warrior Princess

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In Mexico, I was given drugs, then coerced into going topless for a shoot. I learned the hard way that my body was not my own.

New York Magazine

Working As a Teenage Model Gave Me PTSD

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No one ever connects being a too-young fashion model with trauma, and even if they do, the sympathy is slight.

Queen of the Tokyo Ballroom

Published by the Atavist

Purchase this e-book from the Atavist or Amazon.

When Jennifer Sky was fifteen, she was offered the chance to spend a summer working as a model in Japan. For a girl from rural Florida who spent hours poring over fashion magazines it seemed like a dream come true. But soon she found herself all but abandoned in an unfamiliar city, attempting to navigate a ruthless industry on her own and waving goodbye to childhood on the boozy margins of Tokyo’s expatriate scene. In "Queen of the Tokyo Ballroom," Sky recounts the summer that changed the course of her life—and left her still sorting out the consequences two decades later.

The Daily Beast

Supermodels’ Anita Hill Problem

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While any person can report charges of rape or assault to the police, the Civil Rights Act of 1962—which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, color, national origin, or religion—only protects crimes in the workplace that are committed as part of an official employer/employee relationship. Here, Richardson has a loophole on his side: classified as independent contractors, models are not protected by sexual harassment law.

The New York Observer

On The Prowl: Models and The Men We Dated

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GiGi and I were situated against a wall, across the room from where Leo DiCaprio was stationed next to his booth. He was just past a boy then, 19, only a few years older than me. His skin held a pale, doe-ish glow. A fan of the grunge-skater costume of the day—baggy jeans, baggy tee, wilted flannel—he liked to wear girls’ headbands and scamper at a nervous tenor.

The New York Observer

Jared Leto’s So-Called Courtship: Remembering Fashion Week in the ’90s

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A lifetime separated us from that first encounter, and here we were together, after so many days, so many changes. He walked away, and it occurred to me that I was actually having a better time than I ever had in Bryant Park, trying to please the beautiful people.

The Daily Beast

How Models Get Robbed on the Runway

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Models look glamorous and never less than perfect on the billboards. But they claim they're not being paid properly for looking this fabulous—and now they're fighting back.

The Daily News

Watchdog needed in modeling industry, which lacks accountability and regulation

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The career of a model is inherently transient. We move from market to market with the change of the fashion season. Because of this transient state, it is easy for our checks to fall through the cracks.

The New York Times

Organizing Fashion Models, and a New Role for Unions

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“Founding a union makes a strong oppositional statement that scares off people,” she says. This soft-hands approach sounds like pandering to a deeply patrician industry that routinely eats up and spits out thousands of young women. It feels like the ladylike thing to do.

TinHouse.com

The Birthmark

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As a model and actress, Jennifer Sky has lived under the public eye. (Perhaps you recognize her from here?) Now as a writer, she turns her gaze back on the world of fashion and celebrity and tells us what we haven't been seeing, in this web extra for our fiftieth issue: Beauty.

Interview Magazine

Matt Bell is In The House

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"Mike McCormack, one of my favorite Irish writers, once said in an interview that fiction was 'the work of a measured and sober realist who has due regard for the metaphysical and fantastical elements which underpin every moment of our lives.' I like that description a lot: I think that I'm happiest with my work when it toes this same line, simultaneously grounded in the real world and also allowing for manifestations of the kinds of everyday magic and supernatural belief that so often ride alongside our more rational thoughts and reactions."

Interview Magazine

The Infectious Benjamin Percy

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"We're terrified of germs. If I owned stock, I'd invest in Purel, which oozes from every storefront and counter in the country. Every outbreak of bird or swine flu—or whatever mystery disease of the week—seizes the headlines and sends people into a panic. I wanted to target this: our fear of infection."

The Weeklings

The Art of the Guild

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While builders have always worked in a group, writers sit alone in dark apartments typing.

Interview Magazine

Matthew Specktor's Sense of Agency

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"Good fiction necessarily encompasses our limited understandings of one another, and of ourselves. Henry James' entire career was predicated on that, and I think it's what fiction is for: to illuminate that gap between our secret selves and our more visible and apparent ones."

Salon

Illness is big business

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American healthcare is embedded in a competitive medical industry, which often ignores extensive patient care.

Tin House

"Mermaid Seeks Capture"

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This is what I get for playing games. What I get for posting the simple message in the back of the Open Door singles section, "Mermaid Seeks Capture."

Guernica

Faith and Politics in the Sunshine State

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This month when I opened my Florida absentee ballot for the general election, I was forced to confront the common fact that God is being used yet again to manipulate politics.

Interview Magazine

Francesca Lia Block's Elements of Style

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"Writing is literally transformative. When we read, we are changed. When we write, we are changed. It's neurological. To me, this is a kind of magic."

Interview Magazine

Kathleen Alcott's Alphabet City

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"If I wanted to write nonfiction, then I would, but I like to think the writer's job is to travel beyond their experiential circumscriptions, and that by doing so, I can play in the ontological more effectively. This sounds a little depressing. I also write stories just to make myself laugh."

Guernica

Fashion Week and Exploitation

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This year as we enjoy the coverage of fashion week, noting the draping and the newest lines, let us also acknowledge the people that are wearing these pieces of fabric—girls and boys as young as 14, 13, 12.

Interview Magazine

Emma Straub Goes From Screen to Page

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"When I die, if heaven doesn't look like the Beverly Hills Hotel, I want it to look like the Margaret Herrick Library."

The Daily Beast

Olympic Cyclist Dotsie Bauche's Past as a Model Battling Anorezia and Drug Addiction

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This week, the world watched as American Dotsie Bausch won a silver medal for cycling in London. But as she rounded that track at top speed, it was easy to forget the girl she used to be: the drug user and successful runway model who weighed 90 pounds and suffered from severe anorexia.

Interview Magazine

Elissa Schappell's Feminist Architecture

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"When more women step up, stop taking it for granted that men will really always be in the charge, and make the majority of decisions that govern our lives—that's when we'll see real change. The revolution can never sleep. Because all those liberties "won" in the sexual revolution are under attack, and in constant need of defending."

Vol. 1 Brooklyn

Things You Can Do With Toothpaste

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"Don't do that. It's one of my things. Squeezing the toothpaste from the middle. It ruins the tube."

L Magazine

Victor Charlie

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"I didn’t mean to save their lives. It was an accident. Something to be done."

The Rumpus

Interview with Andrea Portes

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"That chapter in the novel came to me practically in a dream. I remember I woke up and wrote it at around 4 in the morning."

12 Street

Into the Land of OZ: Salman Rushdie

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"'Ruby Slippers' is a story about the future in which the idea of home has become almost meaningless because the world is so unsafe. It's not just that there's no place like home; there's no place that you can really call 'home.' And then the idea that these slippers might actually be magical and able to take you somewhere that felt like home."

TinHouse.com

Wild Sugar: An Interview with Cheryl Strayed

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Steve Almond was the first Sugar. He wrote the first 26 columns. One day he emailed me and told me he'd been writing the "Dear Sugar" column on The Rumpus and asked if I wanted to take it over. He knew I was familiar with the column because I'd written Sugar a fan letter, not knowing it was Steve. He told me the gig paid nothing and it would be written anonymously. He understood why I'd say no because he knew I was busy writing and mothering and such. There was no actually good reason to say yes. But I said yes.

12th Street

The Tattoo Artist

Download this story as a PDF.

Jordan sat facing the man. On the floor was a subtly bright Indian-looking rug; it made her think of longhaired white kids with B.O. and dream catchers. A sound machine sat in the corner spewing white noise she figured to both calm the patients and drown out the crying.

The Rumpus

Dear HPV

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Blood is a fascinating substance. It feeds our bodies' cells with both nutrients and oxygen, then transports away the waste products of those same cells. It contains proteins, mineral ions and carbon dioxide. It is mostly water by volume, over ninety percent. They say the closest thing to blood on earth is the sea.

Interview Magazine

How Cheryl Strayed Found Her Path

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After years of grasping to come to terms with her mother's death, Cheryl Strayed found a book on hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. She quickly decided to attempt it. The thing was, she had never backpacked before and was set on going out alone—a beautiful blonde woman determined to hike ice, rock, and snow for over a thousand miles. Her new memoir, Wild, is a tale of facing those things that may just break us.

Interview Magazine

Stephen Elliott's New Direction

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Stephen Elliott is a man who likes clean white T-shirts and new socks—simple things, easy to pack or replace. He is often on the move from his base in San Francisco to Los Angeles, to New York, to Berlin and back again in the span of weeks. He finds home in the rooms of friends, friends of friends, or in short-term rentals. Home is a tenuous thing.

Love Magick Anthology

Between the Folds of Clover
E-book edition now available on

Amazon Kindle, Google Books, Indigo/Chapters Kobo, and Barnes & Noble Nook.

Electric Literature

Dear Lad Mags: Sex Sells, But At What Cost?

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As a woman who has appeared on the cover of Maxim, been in FHM, Loaded, Stuff, and Gear, I am not ashamed of my body. But British "lad mags" have made me think twice about the consequences.

12th Street Online

Grrrl in Ballet Flats - experimental fiction

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The girl with scratched pink ballet flats sat carefully counting her change. Piled on her lap: nickel, quarter, penny, dollar at a time, disappeared into the pocket of a black jacket.

The Rumpus.net

Interview with Adam, an Occupy Medic.

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"Can you tell us what happened to the medic tent that was taken down in Zuccotti Park?"

Interview Magazine

Interview with Colson Whitehead : in which we discuss his brains, and new zombie-novel "Zone One".

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We can't seem to outrun them. We have zombies on our big screens, our small screens, our streaming devices and cable.

TheRumpus.net

Interview with Pulitzer Prize Nominee Jonathan Dee

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Google tells me there are many Jonathan Dees. One is an "authority" on practical astrology, color therapy and Feng Shui for the garden. Another was a doctor, an alchemist, had the largest library in England, came up with the idea of the British Empire, and was Queen Elizabeth's advisor. But the Jonathan Dee who sits across from me is the author of a novel, The Privileges, for which he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Interview Magazine

This Ames is True

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Jonathan Ames on Bored to Death, crying, and his hobbies: "Going to the Russian Baths, sports on TV, & reading books."

The Devil In Mix

Listen to the mix.

A dimple on the chin, the devil within. Pope Paul V1. A mix for the season by J.P. Gilbert and Jennifer Sky

The Ballad of Miss Irene

a post hurricane soundtrack, southern gothic style

Listen to the soundtrack.

East-coasters and friends: As we deconstruct the true meaning of aftermath...here's a link to my first soundtrack/mix, presented by HolyDiver.net. It includes Precious Bryant, The Blue Oyster Cult, Gillian Welch, Metric, The Joy Formidable, The Stranglers, The National, Dolly Parton, The Stones, The Dixie Cups, Rihanna, Robert Johnson...to name a few.

"Keep ‘a chin up high and no swamp can get yaw down." - Hacksaw Jones

The Outlet: the Blog of Electric Literature

The Notebook: a rememberance of Peter Falk

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The girl looked up and sniffed (careful to suppress the urge to wipe at her makeup), as Peter Falk's afternoon cheese plate was "sent over" and offered to me. I had done well, it suggested.

12th Street Online

Smoothies with Granma

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On Saturdays in June, Violet would take her Granma for fruit smoothies. She would find her Granma among the other patients, sit her in a wheelchair, sign her out for the hour and wheel her to the little car. The chemicals that balance emotion and reality were always mixing in Granma's head, creating a "gifted" state, as her Mamma would say when Violet was little.

TheRumpus.net

Friendship of Letters: The Rumpus Interview with Sigrid Nunez

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The photograph circulating of a young stunning Sigrid Nunez with long dark hair and a shining smile, sitting next to Susan Sontag, gives you the physical reminder of what caught David Reiff (Sontag's son)'s attention. The Sigrid I have come to know has short-cropped hair and is often found in a tweed or houndstooth suit jacket, yet that smile is still at the ready, as she cuts straight to the problem in your prose. It is her caring as a teacher for the young writers at her table, to bring forth the best in our stories without even a hint of "you are just a student," that has made me "fall" a bit myself.

Holy Diver

Beyond Adderall: The Stephen Elliott Interview

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"I wanted to explore the idea of torture, and I think it's a lot easier for people to understand torture when it happens to one of their own."

TheRumpus.net

National Donate Life Month

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In honor of April being National Donate Life Month, here are some facts about organ donation:
According to WomensHealth.gov the number of people needing a transplant continues to rise faster than the number of donors. About 4,100 transplant candidates are added to the national waiting list each month.

TheRumpus.net

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Roundup

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Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; as a person partaking in the national Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan that was implemented as part of the package, I see today as a day to celebrate.
So let's take a closer look at the PPACA, shall we?

Lemondrop

'ObamaCare' Saved My Life – a Maxim Cover Girl Shares Her Story

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When I applied to Blue Cross, I was promptly denied due to "pre-existing conditions."

By the way, having your chest cut open is not the only way to be determined un-insurable. Pregnant? That's a pre-existing condition. Ever seen a therapist and been prescribed antidepressants? You have one, too. Susceptible to chronic urinary tract infections or kidney stones? You guessed it. Asthma? Ditto.

A personal example of why Obamacare is benefiting Americans

Jennifer Sky Band, for the Stuart News
October 29, 2010

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As a 34-year-old divorced media studies student, with little outside income and a pre-existing condition, I am the exact reason the new health care law is so important.

At 15, I began working as an actor; one of the perks was comprehensive insurance coverage through my union, the Screen Actors Guild. Until six years ago, I didn't need it.

12th Street Online

Stephen Elliott Interview

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Stephen Elliott, the author of seven books including The Adderall Diaries, and the Editor of the online literary site, The Rumpus http://therumpus.net, sat down with 12th Street's Jennifer Sky to discuss the politics of writing and the lure of the website for the literary world.